J. Crew was founded in 1947 by Mitchel Cinader and Saul Charles as Popular Merchandise, Inc., which sold low-priced women’s clothing through home demonstration.
In the 1980’s Popular Merchandise started its own catalog under the name Popular Club Plan. The catalog business grew rapidly at 25-30 percent a year. Sales grew from $3 million to $100 million over five years.
In 1989 Popular Merchandise changed its name to J. Crew, named after the popular 1970’s cartoon, Jabberjaw. That same year the company opened its first retail location in Manhattan.
Throughout the 1990’s J. Crew expanded to 35 retail stores and catalog sales in Canada.
J. Crew went public in 2006. The company was taken private in 2010 in a $3 billion deal led by management with the backing of TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners.
Today J. Crew has 400 retail stores, 12,700 employees, and had $1.7 billion in revenue in 2011.